Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Psalm 27 — The Lord is My Light and My Help!

If you experience the harsh and vehement attacks of the enemy, and they crowd against you, despising you as one who is not anointed, and on this very account they fight against you, do not succumb to these attacks bu sing Psalm 27.
Athanasius, On the Interpretation of the Psalms

The opening words really set the theme of the entire psalm

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

With this deep trust, we should be able to get through anything. But still, being human, when we face evil and deep trouble face to face we get anxious and cry out to God. The psalmist does likewise, later turning to exhortations that God not does not forsake him and hears his pleas.

Coat of arms at Oxford University
showing first verse of Psalm 27

Pope John Paul II covered this psalm in two parts, as it has been divided for the Liturgy of the Hours. They may both be read here. It us just loaded with good insights. I especially like the Syrian prayer which applies this to temptation and the idea (below) that sometimes our tribulation comes from being utterly alone.  This psalm applies to every situation of life. Do go read it since I will just put a few bits here for easy reflection.
The Lord is my light and my help!
The faithful know that being consistent creates ostracism and even provokes contempt and hostility in a society that often chooses to live under the banner of personal prestige, ostentatious success, wealth, unbridled enjoyment. They are not alone, however, and preserve a surprising interior peace in their hearts because, as the marvelous “antiphon” that opens the Psalm says, “the Lord is light and salvation… the stronghold of life” (cf. Ps 27[26]: 1) of the just. He continuously repeats: “Whom shall I fear?”, “Of whom shall I be afraid?”, “My heart shall not fear”, “Yet I will trust” (cf. vv. 1, 3).

It almost seems as though we were hearing the voice of St Paul proclaiming: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8: 31). But inner calm, strength of soul and peace are gifts obtained by seeking shelter in the temple, that is, by recourse to personal and communal prayer.


Confidence in God in times of tribulation
Even in solitude and the loss of the closest ties of affection, the person of prayer is never completely alone since the merciful God is bending over him. Our thought goes to a well-known passage from the prophet Isaiah, who attributes to God sentiments of compassion and tenderness that are more than maternal: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you” (Is 49: 15).

Let us remind all elderly persons, the sick, those neglected by everyone, to whom no one will ever show tenderness, of these words of the Psalmist and the prophet, so that they may feel the fatherly and motherly hand of the Lord silently and lovingly touch their suffering faces, perhaps furrowed with tears.
Pope John Paul II, General Audience April 21 and 28, 2004
Sources are here and an index of psalm posts is here.

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